Local News

After heart failure, former Garner High coach hopes to help other heart patients

Posted December 5, 2014 5:30 p.m. EST
Updated December 5, 2014 6:23 p.m. EST

Hal Stewart, the legendary high school football coach who led the Garner Trojans to their state title in 1987, is now 72 and a rehab patient at WakeMed Hospital after suffering heart failure last spring.

Stewart has spent the last three months in heart rehab class.

“You know, I'm like most hard-headed men. If I don’t have supervision, someone to push me, it's hard to do,” Stewart said.
Stewart was on a ship off the coast of Myrtle Beach last spring when he passed out.

A medic on board took action.

“They gave me CPR. My heart had quit beating about two minutes, no pulse,” Stewart said.

The aorta above his heart was leaking blood.

Stewart was airlifted to WakeMed for triple coronary artery bypass surgery, an aortic valve replacement and a repair of an aortic aneurysm.

The class Stewart began in September is now complete.

Now the coach wants to get back to coaching by supporting other heart patients.

“I'd like to do volunteer work here,” Stewart said.

Helping in the rehab environment will also help him stay closer to what he knows he needs, which is to stay healthy.

“I believe in staying active,” said Stewart. “You sit around and get rusty and when you get rusty, you die, you know. I'm going to stay around for a long, long time.”

Stewart retired from coaching high school football in 2003.

To continue his love of teaching, he's now a driver's education instructor in Harnett County. But Friday, he'll be putting his heart to the test at the Garner vs. Wake Forest football game for the eastern finals.